Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread by Mary Jane Hathaway

Release date: November 11, 2014
Author info: Twitter
Publisher: Howard Books
Pages: 304
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
A lively Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, featuring Lucy Crawford, who is thrown back into the path of her first love while on a quest to save her beloved family home.

Lucy Crawford is part of a wealthy, well-respected Southern family with a long local history. But since Lucy’s mother passed away, the family home, a gorgeous antebellum mansion, has fallen into disrepair and the depth of her father’s debts is only starting to be understood. Selling the family home may be the only option—until her Aunt Olympia floats the idea of using Crawford house to hold the local free medical clinic, which has just lost its space. As if turning the plantation home into a clinic isn’t bad enough, Lucy is shocked and dismayed to see that the doctor who will be manning the clinic is none other than Jeremiah Chevy—her first love. 

Lucy and Jeremiah were high school sweethearts, but Jeremiah was from the wrong side of the tracks. His family was redneck and proud, and Lucy was persuaded to dump him. He eventually left town on a scholarship, and now, ten years later, he’s returned as part of the rural physician program. And suddenly, their paths cross once again. While Lucy’s family still sees Jeremiah as trash, she sees something else in him—as do several of the other eligible ladies in town. Will he be able to forgive the past? Can she be persuaded to give love a chance this time around?
I just can't resist a Jane Austen retelling, especially one of Persuasion, which is one of my favorite books of hers--and one I don't believe gets enough love. Little did I know, as well, Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread is set in my beloved Mississippi. This is one of those recipes that I'm bound to end up liking, you know? And, luckily for me, PCWCC (can I abbreviate it like that, just for brevity?) didn't disappoint. It's a wholesome and charming, not-to-faithful-to-the-original retelling (a good thing) that left me smiling.

Lucy Crawford is a wonderful homage to Anne Eliot. She's got all of the inner strength and dignity of Anne, but she's also a modern girl who doesn't pull punches. She makes her choices to help her family--at the expense of herself. I've always loved all Anne learns in Persuasion and to see Lucy learn much the same thing, and to realize her family can cope without her making sacrifices for them, is so enjoyable. You can't help but wish happiness for someone who has sacrifices so much, and for someone who has suffered so for a bad decision so long in the past--especially someone who doesn't complain about it and who only works hard, just as Anne/Lucy do(es).

I also really enjoyed an added perspective of Jem, our Captain Wentworth. It's hard to know in Persuasion what Wentworth is thinking, so to see the evolution of Jem's feelings towards Lucy's former actions change through the book is a nice addition. He's bitter at first, thinking she shirks him because she wants to date other people, and he's believed for ten years that she's gone off and sowed her oats. But, when he truly sees who Lucy is and what she makes her decisions for, his anger dissipates. Then, we just have to wait and see how long it takes them to fall back together--the ending I was dying for!

Persuasion, Captain Wentworth and Cracklin' Cornbread is a light and lovely read. If you're at all familiar with Persuasion, you'll find some familiar moments and mentions, which only heightens the fun. It retains the same ideas Austen gets across while adding a southern--if a little stereotypical--twist.

About the author:

Mary Jane Hathaway is the pen name of an award-nominated writer who spends the majority of her literary energy on subjects un-related to Jane Austen. A homeschooling mother of six young children who rarely wear shoes, she’s madly in love with a man who has never read Pride and Prejudice. She holds degrees in Religious Studies and Theoretical Linguistics, and has a Jane Austen quote on the back of her van.

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